Feeds

Networked radar barrage balloons pass milestone

Poor man's defence against poor man's missile

Application security programs and practises

US-based weapons globocorp Raytheon was pleased yesterday to announce a successful Critical Design Review for its planned flotilla of cruise-missile-busting network spyeye barrage balloons.

Raytheon prefer to call the digital blimp barrier system JLENS, for Joint Land attack cruise missile defense Elevated Netted Sensor system. The idea is to put radars and communications gear high in the sky aboard moored aerostats. This will allow the sensors to peer down and spot low-flying enemies - such as cruise missiles - while they are still below the horizon for normal groundbound radars. The comms would also provide line-of-sight over much larger areas, offering improved network bandwidth for US ground force in the balloons' footprint.

Apparently the US Army, sponsors of the JLENS idea, are chuffed as can be.

"JLENS is moving forward," said Lt Col Stephen Willhelm of the US Army Program Executive Office for Missiles and Space. "The JLENS design review ... reaffirms our continued confidence that this critical cruise missile defense capability is on track."

Elements of the US military are concerned about the worldwide proliferation of low-flying, cruise missile type threats - perhaps as basic as a suicide-piloted light aircraft stuffed with homemade explosives. There are already ways to defend against these - for instance an AWACS radar plane can detect such targets from afar, and US fighters can then easily destroy them. But AWACS and fighters are pricey, even more so when you consider their limited endurance and the need to provide a large fleet in order to guarantee continued airborne watch. By contrast, JLENS balloons are cheap and can stay up for thirty days at a stretch.

In addition to comms and detection of cruise missiles, Raytheon say that the JLENS balloon-radars will be able to track ground targets just as airborne roboplanes and surveillance craft can. The company even suggests that JLENS will be able to track bigger artillery munitions - such as "large caliber rockets" - in flight.

The balloons themselves won't be armed, though one type will carry a fire-control radar. Rather, they will pass targeting information to other weapon systems such as Patriot missile batteries.

India has already deployed Israeli-made aerostat radars, in order to guard against possible low-flying air raids by the Tamil Tiger improvised rebel air force in Sri Lanka. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
BEST BATTERY EVER: All lithium, all the time, plus a dash of carbon nano-stuff
We have found the Holy Grail (of batteries) - boffins
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
Bad back? Show some spine and stop popping paracetamol
Study finds common pain-killer doesn't reduce pain or shorten recovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.